UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Pro Circuit - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Pirch pounds ‘em on Clear Lake

Pirch pounds ‘em on Clear Lake
National Guard pro Clifford Pirch made steady improvements throughout the tournament and finished with a huge performance.

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. - When the first fish out of the bag makes the crowd go "Wow!" - you know you're about to see something special. For Clifford Pirch, "special" just doesn't even come close to what he accomplished at the final Walmart FLW Series event of the regular season in the National Guard Western Division.

Dispensing with any formalities, let's just look at the numbers. On the tournament's final day, Pirch caught five bass that weighed 37 pounds, 8 ounces and topped the pro field with 97 pounds, 8 ounces over four days - 10-14 more than his nearest competitor. His massive limit set a new record for a single-day catch in an FLW Series Western Division event. For his efforts, Pirch won $105,000.

"Wow, what a great week," said the National Guard pro from Payson, Ariz. "I'm kind of at a loss for words, but I've beenClifford Pirch strains to load one of his biggest fish into the tank. excited all day. Clear Lake is just an incredible fishery."

Pirch began his quest on day one in 41st place with 17 pounds. He improved to 16th a day later with 19-10, but business really picked up for him in the latter half of day three when the puzzle pieces started to take shape. Targeting offshore structure, he located a load of big fish and caught a 23-pound, 6-ounce limit - the biggest of day three. That catch included a 9-3 that won Folgers Big Bass honors.

Returning to the same area for the final round, Pirch found the fish ready to chew. As was the case yesterday, he caught the fish over boulders and rock piles in 15 to 26 feet of water. A Berkley Gripper Jig with a Chigger Craw trailer fished on 15-pound Berkley Trilene fluorocarbon line produced a great bag of fish that included two in the 8-pound range.

Clifford Pirch was surrounded by his National Guard teammates for the trophy presentation."I've never had a better structure-fishing day in my career," Pirch said. "I had a couple of key angles on several areas. I had a ton of places to fish, but in the end I was just using a few of them because I had a good angle on them. I could catch (a fish) and go back later and catch another one.

"Earlier in the week, this pattern was just opening up to me. It was just mediocre - good for maybe half a bag. I had to mix it with a shallow-water bite because it was just coming in."

With Clear Lake finally starting to stabilize after an early fall cold front that dropped air and water temperatures and rattled the fish, Pirch said the final day's weather was helpful: "We had some cloud cover and a little bit of breeze today. That might have had something to do with it. It might also haveA banner day on Clear Lake led to a record-setting catch for Clifford Pirch. something to do with having not so many boats on the water today. I could let a spot rest without somebody pulling up behind me. I could just rotate around and fish key spots."

Notably, one of Pirch's fellow National Guard team members, Tim Klinger, won the Clear Lake event in 2007 in similar fashion. Like Pirch, Klinger came on strong in the tournament's latter half, posting a 32-pound, 8-ounce limit on the final day. Appropriately, Klinger, along with National Guard team member Brent Ehrler, presented the tournament trophy to Pirch.

Sgt. 1st Class Frank O'Laughlin, who coordinates the National Guard fishing team, described the unity that was evident by all team members showing up at the morning launch to support Pirch. "We have a saying that when one of us is honored, all of us are honored."

Mcabee misses swimbait bite, drops to second

After leading the event for three days, Randy Mcabee Jr slipped one spot to second.After leading the Pro Division for three days, Randy Mcabee Jr. had to ditch his initial game plan and fall back to his day-two strategy. On days one and three, he used a 7-inch Osprey Tournament Talon swimbait, but similar to the second day, Mcabee ended up catching his fish on a deep-diving crankbait over rocks, ridges and humps in 20 to 25 feet.

"They were hitting the swimbait, but not reacting to it," the Bakersfield, Calif., pro said. "So I went with the crankbait and got them to start reacting to it."

At the morning launch, Mcabee was hopeful that the windy and partly cloudy conditions that dominated the first half of the day would have played into his favor. Unfortunately, that wasn't in the cards.

"I thought the weather today would have turned them on for the swimbait, but fish are fish - they have their own minds."

Despite the ups and downs, Mcabee fished a consistent tournament, numerically speaking. He was one of only two pros to produce 20-plus pounds each day of the event. (Jared Lintner was the other.) Mcabee's first three days yielded catches of 23-4, 23-3 and 20-1.

Ultimately he placed second and earned $40,410.

Third place Lintner goes to the grass

Matching Mcabee's 20-pound, 2-ounce limit, Jared Lintner of Arroyo Grande, Calif., slipped one notch toFinishing third, Jared Lintner fished a lipless crankbait, a swimbait and a buzzbait. third place with 82-5 worth $32,328. His previous three days brought bags of 20-6, 21-1 and 20-12.

Fishing a Jackal lipless crankbait and a swimbait made by a local friend, Lintner targeted submerged grass that he had located during a previous tournament.

"About a month ago, I found some really good grass beds. I way-pointed those areas with those hidden grass beds, figuring they'd be gone off the surface. That way I could catch fish if I couldn't see the grass."

Calling Clear Lake his favorite lake in the country, Lintner said he never had the opportunity to mine some of the green gold that many others had found.

"My trouble all week was that I could never get the big ones to bite."

Reese rounds up a fourth-place finish

Targeting areas with lots of baitfish was the key for fourth place pro Jimmy Reese.Jimmy Reese of Witter Springs, Calif., turned in a limit of 20 pounds and gained two spots to fourth with 78-10 worth $24,246. Throughout the week, he caught his fish on a variety of baits from a lipless crankbait to a Senko and a swimbait. One of his most productive offerings was a Zoom Brush Hog, Texas rigged, with a 3/8-ounce weight.

"I'm just getting (the bait) down deep in the weeds, popping it a few times and moving on," he said. "I was just covering water."

Reese said that an abundance of silverside minnows in Clear Lake bodes well for bass and the anglers seeking them.

"You find the bass blowing up on the bait and then you try and figure out how to get them to bite."

Fifth-place Minderman finds plenty of fish

Sean Minderman of Spokane, Wash., rose two spots to finish in fifth place with 77-12, earning $16,164. His day-four catchWorking a Lucky Strike jerkbait in a slow, erratic retrieve was the key for Sean Minderman. weighed 19-9.

Minderman caught his fish on a Lucky Craft jerkbait in ghost-shad color. He said a slow retrieve with occasional long pauses proved most effective. The spot he fished was small, but an abundance of forage kept it full of bass.

"I've been fishing a 30-foot stretch of bank all week - it's loaded with bait," he said. "Yesterday I caught 35 bass in that spot. Today, it was a little different. I only caught eight keepers, but I was fortunate to get five good ones."

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top 10 pro leaders at the FLW Series Clear Lake event:

6th: Michael C. Tuck of Antelope, Calif., 77-2
7th: William Gibbs of John Day, Ore., 77-2
8th: Brett Hite of Phoenix, Ariz., 75-11
9th: Gary Howell of Stockton, Calif., 75-8
10th: Tommy Cardoza of Lakeport, Calif., 73-0

Tags: david-a-brown  headline-story  2009-10-21-clear-lake 

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